Picnic + Culture = Happiness
If you’ve been following my blog, you know I’m a big fan of Door County galleries, the Drive-In, all things theatrical, and taking day trips in my trusty blue convertible, Betty Blue. What you might not know about me is that I’m also a major foodie. My definition of foodie? The kind of person who, right after she asks how you are, follows up with a question about what you ate for lunch or what you’re cooking for dinner.
Those who really know me are aware that I’m just as likely to stop for frozen custard as I am for a fine arts fair. But in Door County, there’s no need to choose food over culture, or vice versa. The two go together like peanut butter and chocolate. (As in Elephant Tracks, my favorite ice cream flavor at Wilson’s, but I digress).
One of the best ways to dine in the Door is al fresco, especially in the late summer and fall when the weather is spectacular and the vistas beautiful no matter where you are. Here are a few suggestions for picnic/cultural excursions that will feed you, body and soul.
1. Egg Harbor is at the center of the action. Grab a delicious sandwich or salad from Schoolhouse Artisan Cheese (they’re made to order right in front of you) or some great deli items at Main Street Market (best olives in the county) and head down to Harborside Park. Picnic away while you enjoy the public art sculptures that twirl and spin overhead, then jump in your car and take a short jaunt off the beaten path to visit Renee Schwaller at her gallery, Off the Wheel Pottery. I’ve spent several hours getting lost in this gallery, set in a lovely old granary and connected to Renee’s studio. Don’t miss it!
2. Pack yourself a picnic dinner, and head to Peninsula State Park to grill out at Nicolet Bay Beach. Start with some organic beef patties from Waseda Farms, a fresh salad or two and a cherry pie from Sweetie Pies. After you’ve stuffed yourself silly, aid your digestion by walking across the road, where you can sit under the stars and see an show at American Folklore Theatre.
3. Want to spend some time on the quiet side? Swing by Koepsel’s Farm Market, a five-generations strong institution where you can find everything from delicious canned goods (pickles are the perfect picnic food) to Wisconsin cheeses, chips and salsa, and cherry jam. And don’t forget to bring your cooler and plenty of ice, because Koepsel’s has one of the finest beer selections in the county- over 100 varieties – and you can mix and match your own. Take your picnic over to the Bailey’s Harbor Beach, and then walk over to the Ridges Sanctuary for a beautiful hike that will take you through a diverse landscape of field, forest, water and wetland. If you drank a couple of those beers at your picnic – don’t worry. The five miles of hiking trails are easy, and meandering is the norm.
4. As a Southern Door gal myself, I can’t neglect to mention the wonderful picnic possibilities in my neck of the woods. If you’re coming up to the county along the lakeshore, make a couple of stops on County S and visit Weinke’s Market and Renard’s Cheese. Once you’re stocked up with fruits, crackers, cheese and sausage, find a quiet spot for a picnic along the lake. Robert LaSalle County Park is a little known gem, and it’s just adjacent to a beautiful Door County Land Trust hiking trail. Use their fabulous map app to find all of their pristine trails around the county. Hiking not your style? Drive on into the beautiful city of Sturgeon Bay, and visit a few galleries or do some shopping.
5. The creme de la creme of picnic/culture combos is an evening at Peninsula Players. Pack a picnic and arrive at the theatre grounds early. Although you can’t bring alcoholic beverages to the theatre grounds, there are adult beverages for sale. You can relax at several spots around the campus, but why not go the whole nine yards: a picnic on the beach, where you’ll be able to watch the sun sink down as the company prepares for the show.
So, don’t be hungry! Eat, drink and enjoy everything that Door County’s cultural gems have to offer. Have I missed any perfect picnic ideas? Let me know on my Facebook page.